Archive for August, 2012

DayZ 101

Posted: August 31, 2012 in Gaming
Tags: , , , , , , ,

So, you’ve decided to give DayZ a try. Maybe you read about it on the interwebs, maybe someone told you about it, maybe you discovered it on your own. Either way – congratulations: You’re about to embark on a wonderful journey, filled with excitement, heart-ache, tension, and the possible erosion of your soul. To help prepare you for what is to come, here are some quick tips I’ve jotted down based entirely on my own experiences as a survivor.

* Wait for the Standalone – Yeah, I was actually supposed to write this up weeks ago, but you know… stuff happened. Now that Bohemia is throwing their full weight behind DayZ with its own stand-alone version, you might as well wait for that to come out. Getting the current version involves you having to buy ArmA II first, along with the Operation Arrowhead expansion at least, which isn’t cheap. The stand-alone is adopting the Minecraft Business Model (releasing it as an alpha that you buy into, but really cheap, and then as it gets better it gets more expensive to buy in), and a first build is expected as early as this winter, so you may not have that long to wait. Still, if you want to get stuck in now…

* Play with friends – maybe you’re one of those gamers who are actually very good doing something Solo. If you are, good for you, but for everyone else, bring a mate into this game. It will try your patience, it will piss you off, it will make you want to cry and it will make you laugh and smile like nothing else. All of this is x100 better/bearable if you have a friend. Also, don’t use the in-game chat, use Skype or something.

* Avoid other players you don’t know – This is fairly self-explanatory. You never know, you may find a nice guy once in a while, but even I randomly killed some dude because I wanted to show my housemates what it was like. DayZ makes Dicks of us all.

* Choose Male – when you first start a new character you’ll be asked which gender to choose, Male or Female. Not that we have anything against girls, but for some reason Female avatars can’t wear Ghillie suits, which is one of the coolest things in the game. It’s a technical thing, rather than any bias on behalf of the developer, but it’s something to bear in mind.

* Look at the bottom corner – as soon as you spawn, look to the bottom right (or is it left?) of the screen. It will flash up with three lines of text. The first line always says ‘Chernarus’, as that’s the name of the whole map. The second line will be the closest notable landmark to you, and the third line will say ‘Day n’. If you’re a new spawn, it will say ’0′ but if you’ve been around a while it will have however long you’ve been alive. With that information to hand, do this…

* Out-of-game Map – you’ll need an out of game map to help find your way around. Personally, I use DayZDB’s map, but there are several over the internet. Alternatively, you could download the GamePlan app to your phone or tablet device, and then download the DayZ maps we have there and then use your device as a personal DayZ map reader. Either way, once you have a map, use the nearest landmark location and information about your surroundings to find out where you are. Everyone spawns at the beach with a new character, but here’s my process:

Is the landmark to the left or to the right of you? (New players may not be able to figure this one out) Does the train track or the road come first when you walk inland? How much woodland is around you? What does the shoreline look like? Any bridges? Any other buildings or points of interest? Use all this information and you should be able to pinpoint your general area, or at least enough to know where to go from there, as your immediate location’s topography will actually be fairly unique to your situation.

For example: I’ve spawned on the beach, there is the railroad first, then the road. There’s a bridge to my left, I can see a town in the distance and there’s not any woodland directly in front of me. Nearest landmark is ‘Kamenka’, and the shoreline comes in a bit narrow. I can conclude then that I am in the area to the left of Kamenka, right by the bridge.

* Secure some food and water – This is easier said than done, and is basically dependant on where you spawn and what the spawn loots are like. Even the most dogged vet can get screwed over by a bad spawn. Essentially though, you’ll want to go to the nearest town, and crawl into all the open buildings you can find. You’ll want at least 1-2 cans of drink and one can of food before you consider doing anything else.

PRO TIP: Not all buildings can be entered in DayZ, and even if you’re using a map, some of the smaller buildings that the map says are enterable may end up not being enterable at all. Here’s a quick simple rule: If the door isn’t already open, and you can’t see in through the windows, its 9/10 not a building you can go into. That being said, some buildings have loot spawns that are on the ground next to them, or only part of the building can be entered. Again, you will learn these things over time.

* Eyes & Ears – the ‘Eye’ and the ‘Ear’ symbol to the right are the two most important symbols in the game. Even more important than your food/water/health meter, I would say. When you move or do actions, bars appear next to them to denote how loud you are being (Ear) and how visible you are (Eyes). The more bars the worse it is, and the more likely you’re going to be spotted by a zombie. Learn how to move through the different types of terrain in DayZ, and combine that with the knowledge you accumulate on zombies and how they react. NOTE: generally, lying prone and not moving gives no Ears and no Eyes, but some terrain in towns you always have at least one ‘Eye’, so you have to be careful if a zombie gets too close. That being said…

* Crawl – To begin with, crawl every time you get close to a town or anywhere where there are basically zombies. The zombies aren’t infallible – they do glitch, it IS possible to lose them and they are coded with certain limits in terms of how far they can see and hear. The more you play, you more you learn these limits and the faster you can make your way through infested areas, but do bear in mind that this IS an alpha. Shit goes wrong sometimes. Eventually you’ll learn how close you can get before you need to start crawling.

PRO TIP: If you get aggro’d just run for it. The key thing to breaking Zombie Aggro is to get a head start, and then you need to break line-of-sight and immediately go prone and stay still. Zombies can get stuck by walls, fences etc… and can only walk up hill or inside buildings. Use these to your advantage and it’s not the end of the world. Alternatively, if you have a weapon, go into a building and then pick them off one by one as the shuffle inside… although using a loud weapon will just attract more zombies. On that note:

* DON’T USE LOUD WEAPONS – There are lots of cool guns in the game, which you can find at the military spawns (although some of the rifles and shotgun can be found in farms). Don’t use any of them seriously. Zombies can hear gunshots from a ridiculous distance, and if you keep shooting shit up, you’re eventually just going to attract other players who will then shoot you in the face. Try and find a silent weapon before you go tearing the place up, but if you have to open up, don’t stick around.

* Accept that you will. A lotDayZ involves a lot of walking and running places, and then dyeing very quickly without having actually done anything. Don’t worry, that’s normal… once you get into the swing of things, find out what works and what doesn’t, and find a rhythm of keeping yourself fed and watered, you’ll start getting into the swing of things. Funnily enough, going around killing loads of zombies is rarely a good idea, and will eventually get you killed one way or another. DayZ is about SURVIVING. Try it.

Servers Decoded

Choosing your server is almost part of the game process itself, as so many private servers tweak certain settings at while. Your first server especially is important, so here are some tips:

Population – The lower the population, the less chance of you running into someone who’s more likely than not just going to shoot you in the face anyway. Big loot areas like Cherno, Elektro, the Airfields etc… attract PvP gamers like nobody’s business, so going to those areas on a populated server is a big risk. Sure, if you’ve been playing the game for a while and desire a challenge, pick a high pop one, but for the newcomer, go low.

UK/US/NL etc… – Obviously these denote the location of the servers, and possibly what language they speak. To be honest, all you need to worry about is ping. If you’re in the UK, for example, you could quite easily go to UK or Netherlands or German servers, and not suffer too much. As mentioned above, I wouldn’t bother

vx.x.x.x/xxxxx – The server version isn’t terribly important, but if you want to minimise potential issues, pay attention. Different servers will run different version, and it’s always good to try and find out what the most up to date version is (that’s no in beta), and stick to servers that are running that. Servers running beta version will either be locked, and/or have BETA xxxxx

REG|VET – This merely denotes the ‘difficulty’ of the server, but as far as I can tell it doesn’t have that much impact on actual gameplay. Things like using the in-game are effected, as you won’t be able to see where you are on VET, but to be honest anything else isn’t really noticeable.

CH: ON/OFF 3D: ON/OFF – This basically denotes whether that server has crosshairs and third-person view enabled. Third person-view I’d say is pretty essential unless you want to be REALLY hardcore, but you don’t have to worry so much about crosshairs, as you’ll want to be firing in first person anyway and you can always use iron sights.

Feel free to submit your own tips if you think I’ve missed anything, I’ll probably update this as I got along anyway.

I’ve never been to a big LAN event before – the closet was when I was briefly part of my University’s gaming society, and we all brought our PC’s into uni this one time and just had a gaming session on Warcraft III or something.

It’s not that I was against them… before the meteoric rise of Broadband, I never had a decent gaming PC, and then when I did I generally just played MMO’s online… the whole LAN thing really skipped me by. PC gaming was a solitary hobby for me – not many of my friends were that much into it (Again, mainly owing to the lack of a decent rig), we mainly LAN’d with consoles, if at all.

Was an interesting experience then going to the Insomnia even in Telford (UK), which is basically a massive LAN event with competitions and some exhibitions. Insomnia is hardly GamesCom… there wasn’t that any people there and even the ones that were spent most of the time in the two gaming halls, which was a site to behold. Rows upon rows of computers, across two rather large halls… it certainly got a bit warm in there, I’ll tell you that. It was also amusing to watch the poor service staff wonder by every now and then with crates of food and beer.

Funny thing was, I wasn’t actually at Insomnia to participate in all the LANing, I was there to try my hand at being a PR. I say PR… I helped out on a booth the whole time and game demonstrations… not the proper PR that PR’s do. It was still an interesting experience… ever since I went Freelance all those months ago, I’ve been helping this guy out who’s created this nifty little gaming app. It’s called GamePlan, and it’s basically a platform for people to download game maps into, and then draw and edit on them to come up with tactics and strategies to help them when they play games online. I can give you the full demonstration if you want, or you could just go to the official website to check it out. There’s a free version and a premium version, and it’s really worth checking out if you have a group of people you play online games with, PC or Console.

Here are some snaps I took with my phone:

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Oh, I never told you guys how Cologne was, did I? It was fun.

So, some of you know this already, but some of you don’t – I’ve been nominated for an award. The videogames industry has its share of ceremonies and awards… some more respectable than others and some more serious than others, but of the few it does have, the Games Media Awards is the only one that I know off that allows the writers and critics the chance to win something, in the UK at least.

I don’t want to spend too long here as I’m either going to come off as egotistical or say something I shouldn’t but I’d just like to say I’m chuffed at getting the nomination – whoever nominated me, you are legends, through and through… winning a GMA is something I thought would be cool to aim for in a couple of years, but never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be worthy of one now. Again – thank you. Just FYI – I’m in the ‘Rising Star’ category, which I think in a general sense means that I’ve been seen to have been doing well career-wise over the past 12 months. Cheers.

It’s in the hands of the judges now who wins – a panel of industry people some 200 strong. I’m up against some stiff (And far more deserving) competition, so I’m doubly looking forward to October 18th, when the awards ceremony is.

To my fellow Rising Star-ers I just want to say “Good Luck, We’re all counting on you”.